Why Joe Moviegoer should care about the Disney/Marvel merger

James Wallace

by: James Wallace
August 31st, 2009


By this point, everyone to infinity and beyond has heard the news of the Walt Disney Corporation’s agreement to purchase Marvel Entertainment (you can read Disney’s official press release HERE). It is a deal that even Peter Parker’s Spidey sense could not have foreseen, equaling an estimated $4 billion, giving Disney rights and ownership to Marvel’s 5,000 character properties. But what does this mean to Joe Moviegoer? Let’s take a look at what today’s conference call with Disney revealed about the future of Marvel movies (the conference call can be listened to in its 60 minute entirety HERE).

The first, and most apparent, question is how does this deal affect Marvel’s properties that already have films currently in development?

Paramount Pictures, the previous distributor, currently has four Marvel projects in some form of production, including: IRON MAN 2 (May 7, 2010), THOR (May 20, 2011), CAPTAIN AMERICA (July 22, 2011) and THE AVENGERS (May 4, 2012). There is a possible fifth film in the deal with Edgar Wright’s ANT-MAN, however that is still in the early script writing stages and a firm release date is yet to have been set (possibly some time in 2012). Paramount will still distribute said films and keep in line with their proposed release dates. As of now, nothing is really changing just yet for the already-established and anticipated summer comic book flicks of 2010-2012.

Bottom line: You don’t have to cross out the release dates you marked in your “Marvel at these superhero hotties with super bodies” calender or scrap that arc reactor you are tirelessly working away on in your garage/mom’s basement/tree fort in preparation for next summer.

So what does that mean for the other staple characters of the Marvel comics universe whose rights are held elsewhere?

Sony Pictures still holds SPIDER-MAN, Fox still has X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR. And while Disney will likely pull these three properties, and the five previously listed above, under their wing when their contracts expire, it would not be for quite some time. However, their plan is to eventually become the sole distributor of all things Marvel.

Bottom line: We won’t see the full affect of this merger on already-established titles for awhile. Let’s hope for FANTASTIC FOUR’s sake this is sooner rather than later. Reed Richards & Co. could use a few pointers from The Incredible family.

What does Disney’s acquisition really mean for the future of Marvel and their related films?

A few pretty substantial things, actually. The first being that, with Disney now backing them, Marvel’s ability to go further into the realm of possibility has now grown. In other words, they will have more money, which will undoubtedly result in a bigger, stronger presence overall. We’re talking extended reach here. Think grander scale. More funding to back projects, more marketing dollars, etc. For Marvel, that already produces films with the scope that they do, this is huge.

Bottom line: It is enough green to make even the Hulk relax.

What new things can be expected creatively from this newfound partnership?

Well, for one, how about a Marvel character/characters getting the Pixar treatment? While nothing has been set in stone just yet, the conference call did reveal that John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar, has already met with a few key Marvel people. Did just reading about the potential of Pixar teaming up with Marvel to make a (fill in the blank here with your favorite Marvel superhero) film just get you so excited that you unintentionally “thwiped your web” so to speak? Well, apparently that was the reaction from the people at Marvel as well, as they literally had to be told to calm down from overexcitement during this meeting.

Bottom line: Pixar. Marvel. Pixar + Marvel. Pixarvel. Enough said.

Should we be worried that our beloved Marvel universe will be given the Disney treatment?

Not so much. Although changes for Marvel from Disney are likely to come in some form or another, they are likely to be more backdoor alterations of things. Disney has stated that this deal is more a mutually beneficial one and less parasitic. In the words of the President of Disney, Bob Iger, “if it ain’t broke.” Implying that the creative control will remain in the very hands of the people at Marvel that controlled it before this merger. Disney realizes that with great power comes great responsibility. A responsibility to uphold what made Marvel great in the first place, and worthy of being acquired.

Bottom line: Don’t expect Wolverine’s ears to be retrofitted with Mickey Mouse ears, embroidered with Logan across the front.

All in all, this monumental merger of two creative juggernauts is a great thing to look forward to. A great thing for Marvel. A great thing for Disney. A great thing for us, the general movie-going, comic book-reading, TV-watching, video game-playing public. And I expect that the echo and impact this merger will have on us consumers of pop culture, as well as Hollywood as a business, will be seen, analyzed, studied, and talked about for years to come. This is only the beginning.

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  • http://www.teagivesmeglee.com TheJohnMulhern

    Really great article James, I really hope to see good stuff come from this. There really isn't much to be worried about, DC is a subsidiary of Time Warner and has been for a long time. Although I'm not much of a DC fan, it doesn't seem that Time Warner owning DC has really changed much comic wise (other than making many of Six Flags rides named after DC heroes).

  • mel

    i hadn't thought of the possibility of a marvel + pixar. that would be fun.

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  • Pete

    Thats a great article. Very thorough. Did you see this one on how screenwriters should feel about the merger? http://twurl.cc/1jcv

  • Pete

    Thats a great article. Very thorough. Did you see this one on how screenwriters should feel about the merger? http://twurl.cc/1jcv

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